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Laney-Walker, Bethlehem Heritage Trail plans considered

Monday, June 9, 2014 9:14 PM
Last updated Wednesday, June 11, 2014 1:03 AM
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Along with the typical activities of peering down Magnolia Lane or visiting downtown’s James Brown statue, city leaders are hoping to add one more hotspot to the schedules of tourists visiting Augusta: The Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods.

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Dr. Bobby Donaldson speaks during the second of three public meetings about the Heritage Trail planned for the Laney Walker/Bethlehem area held at Beulah Grove Baptist Church in Augusta. There is a third meeting scheduled for Aug. 11.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Dr. Bobby Donaldson speaks during the second of three public meetings about the Heritage Trail planned for the Laney Walker/Bethlehem area held at Beulah Grove Baptist Church in Augusta. There is a third meeting scheduled for Aug. 11.
Tracey McManus
Reporter
Twitter: @aug_mcmanus
E-mail | 706-823-3424

Engineers are in the planning phase of developing a Heritage Trail to wind through the two neighborhoods that could showcase historic sites for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The trail is part of a multimillion-dollar revitalization of the area that began in 2009 devoted to razing dilapidated structures, building new housing, creating green space and other efforts.

On Monday, architects, engineers and other players helping develop the trail presented four possible designs and asked for public input.

“When a visitor brand new to Augusta comes to visit, what are the lessons, what are the insights you want them to glean?” asked Bobby Donaldson, an associate history professor at University of South Carolina who is working on the project.

Donaldson said the goal is to help tourists and locals gain knowledge of the prominent, and lesser known, African American businesses and leaders who shaped the neighborhoods decades ago.

Thomas Robertson, the president of Cranston Engineering Group, said 288 sites have been identified as being candidates for the trail, but consultants must narrow down the list to make a walkable or drivable route.

Robertson said the project does not yet have a projected cost or timeline for completion. Consultants are now drawing feedback from the community about which sites they’d like to see included and how the trail should be designed before a final proposal is presented Aug. 11.

W.E. Lofton, 70, who grew up on Clay Street, said the revitalization project is much needed to address dilapidated and condemned homes that often attract crime or make the neighborhoods less desirable for newcomers.

According to a city news release, the revitalization project has so far razed 95 dilapidated structures, purchased 273 lots, created 6.4 acres of green space and has built or begun constructing 70 new housing units.

The project is using $7.3 million of local bond funds along with $6 million of private investment.

Lofton said the historic preservation aspect is also key because the neighborhoods have the birth homes of various civil rights and community leaders as well as the sites of African American businesses, schools and community centers that helped shape the city.

“It will benefit generations to come so they know the impact, the heritage of people here,” Lofton said.

The four plans presented Monday all take different approaches on how to incorporate attractions into a digestible trail. One would intersect the Heritage Trail into surrounding attractions, such as the canal system or Riverwalk Augusta.

Another incorporates loops and parks to make it more walkable with less sites.

Robertson said nothing is in stone, and the final recommendation could be a blend of all four designs.

Joyce Law, a member of the project’s steering committee, said the trail is important to remind the community of the efforts of business people, civil rights leaders, educators and other activists that may be forgotten today.

She said some may not realize the neighborhoods were once thriving and that certain sites played important roles in the foundation of Augusta.

She said it’s time to help bring a sense of pride back to the area and boost the economic potential of the neighborhoods.

“That’s part of the brain drain of youth today,” she said. “They see nothing in a certain place, so they assume nothing was ever there and nothing will ever be there. They don’t see the potential or the history. It’s important we go back, so they can see the greatness.”

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Pops
18334
Points
Pops 06/09/14 - 09:47 pm
8
0
Great

Make it first class......spend lots of money on it. Be sure and make it big enough to handle the hordes of visitors.......

LeConteSkier
605
Points
LeConteSkier 06/09/14 - 10:27 pm
3
6
Greenville's West End

For all of you naysayers, either support your city or stay quiet! For the rest of you that would like to see what this area could be like in 7 to 10 years, check out The West End in Greenville SC. It is an amazing place but just 10 to 15 short years ago it was the place that you drove through fast with your windows up and didn't stop as it was the cities most dangerous area. Thanks to community support, that neighborhood is where people visit the city, fall in love and move to. See more at http://www.exploregreenville.com/West_End_Greenville.shtml

countyman
22636
Points
countyman 06/09/14 - 10:55 pm
3
7
Progressive!!

Outside the prominent neighborhoods in the urban core.. Laney Walker and Harrisburg are the next two intown hot spots... Olde Town and Midtown are both hot spots in 2014..

Just My Opinion
6698
Points
Just My Opinion 06/10/14 - 03:47 am
6
2
Skier, I would like nothing

Skier, I would like nothing but the best for this city.
But let's get real here. That area has a loooooong way to go before locals feel safe down there...and by "locals", I mean ALL the locals, even the ones who live down there!
Back in December, I took my wife and son down to Laney for the high school Border War game (not sure of the name). Great game. Run very well. We had a great time. Then we found out that someone's car got broken into, right in broad daylight, right in the parking lot by the stadium, and just a few cars down from ours! ZIP!! There went that overall good feeling I had.
Certainly the attitudes of some of the people who live in that area need to be changed before the attitudes of the people who want to visit can change.
We'll see what happens.

Riverman1
103332
Points
Riverman1 06/10/14 - 04:53 am
7
1
Realist!!!

Skier, the comparison of the West End of Greenville is worth taking a look at. Ongoing revitalization of the West End has been going on for decades. It’s considered the arts and entertainment sector of Greenville. Much private enterprise has taken hold there with shopping, restaurants and bars prevalent. What’s planned for Laney Walker is much different.

It appears this is a trail that will go by points of interest concerning black history. There’s nothing wrong with that and it will certainly help beautify the Laney Walker area, but it will not promote the type investments that will turn it into another West End.

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 05:33 am
5
3
Oh, tourists will have plenty

Oh, tourists will have plenty to see, alright.

Drug dealers, prostitutes, drunks, and drug addicts, with criminals thrown in to liven it up.

I remember when you could drive through there and it was safe to do so...

Riverman1
103332
Points
Riverman1 06/10/14 - 05:48 am
3
1
Community Support???

Skier, if community support was all it took, Laney Walker would be paradise with all the county money that's been thrown at it. The county is going to pour millions of dollars into it for the next 50 years unless some future Commission comes to its senses and stops the whole thing...and that's not likely.

ColCo
1079
Points
ColCo 06/10/14 - 06:52 am
6
0
Greenville

I've been doing business in Greenville since the mid 1980's and the differences between Augusta and Greenville are stark. Greenville had a comprehensive plan and stuck with it. They have a wealth of progressive corporate partners who were willing to invest in the downtown vision presented twenty years ago. They continue to do so and have attracted many, many more corporations to their ranks. The local government was not divisive, they stayed out of the way and race never entered into the picture. With effort and a few attitude adjustments, Augusta could do the same.

slowrider
202
Points
slowrider 06/10/14 - 07:39 am
4
0
Augusta---> Greenville

I love this discussion thread.

Whatever Greenville has done, we need to copy. The whole Commission should go visit that city, and learn what a progressive urban renewal project looks like, and then start the process of attracting corporate partners to share that vision.

To the extent that this trail ADDS to that overall vision, great. By itself, it seems like a hodgepodge of individual "good ideas" that make no sense on a large scale.

redfish
992
Points
redfish 06/10/14 - 07:50 am
3
0
Reality....

Augusta does not need to look to Greenville as a model. The difference in demographics between the two will tell you all you need to know about why the two cities have moved in such different directions.

seenitB4
108732
Points
seenitB4 06/10/14 - 07:59 am
2
4
Wonders never cease

You would attract more visitors if you put a Gone With the Wind attraction there....but don't listen to me, yall think we are just naysayers.

Atlanta has all the wealth of history you could EVER want...civil rights in the past-present & future.....& the Braves left the building anyway..

Soon the populace will be gone---like GONE FOR GOOD.....stop trying to copy another city...it is NOT working.GEEZ, get a clue.

seenitB4
108732
Points
seenitB4 06/10/14 - 08:24 am
2
3
hey-- I have an idea

Throw 90 million on streetcars in that area..

http://atlantaforward.blog.ajc.com/2014/06/09/atlanta-streetcars/?ecmp=a...

What does it matter...it is only money....we can make the stuff.

slowrider
202
Points
slowrider 06/10/14 - 09:14 am
4
1
comical

Imagine the lunacy of looking at the success of another city, and seeing what pieces you could replicate.

Keep the cynicism coming!

dichotomy
40707
Points
dichotomy 06/10/14 - 09:26 am
5
0
Do our "city leaders" wake up

Do our "city leaders" wake up every morning and try to think of the next symbolic, but useless, expensive project on which to blow our taxpayer money? If I'm not mistaken, they tore most of this trail down because THE HERITAGE WAS SO BAD.

"Robertson said the project does not yet have a projected cost or timeline for completion."

Oh good, just what we needed....ANOTHER OPEN ENDED MONEY PIT.

LeConteSkier........" check out The West End in Greenville SC. It is an amazing place but just 10 to 15 short years ago it was the place that you drove through fast with your windows up and didn't stop as it was the cities most dangerous area."

You mean like South Augusta is getting to be today because of the diversion of all resources to downtown redevelopment and Section 8 relocation of their downtown problem children to the South end? For your information, as one of those on the PAYING FOR end of this and ON THE RECEIVING END OF THE CRAP, I don't have to support the "city" and stay quiet. I'll be kicking and screaming every day as long as they drag my taxpayer money DOWNTOWN to pay for these projects. I assure you that they cannot fix the root problem downtown OR in Greenville.....they just use taxpayer money to relocate them so they can do the same things in another area and use taxpayer money to clean up the mess they left. Sure, you can make any area of a city look nice if you dump enough taxpayer money into it. But I assure you there is another nearby area that takes a corresponding nose dive. The problem is that they destroy the new area before they can get the old one fixed up. I may be a naysayer but I am a TAXPAYING naysayer in an area that is being negatively impacted by DOWNTOWN "redevelopment" so maybe you are the one who needs to be quiet.

You want a "heritage" trail for Augusta.......then cut a trail to Columbia County to show where all the white folks went.

countyman
22636
Points
countyman 06/10/14 - 10:58 am
1
3
Augusta!!

Riverman... The West End was a rough part of town and it didn't happen to attract things overnight.. The private sector won't continuously build in rough areas until the city steps up to help..

Redfish... The city of Augusta managed to attract Imax, Apple, Sephora, H&M, Michael Kors, etc before Greenville did.. They still don't have Michael Kors or H&M in Greenville. The outlet mall is another example of something not found in Greenville either.. Augusta can easily learn from the mistakes of Greenville too. We already have the major advantage in terms history, water(Savannah river, augusta canal), and the ability for thousands high paying jobs to over take downtown(GRU/GGHF site).. While their downtown is nice, the suburbs in Greenville resemble normal boring suburban architecture.. Hopefully the city of Augusta will help the private developers create pedestrian friendly and street level nodes in the suburbs.. Mixed-use developments need to become the focus and not the basic strip malls..

Dichotomy... The $172 million Starbucks plant, $115 million Rockwood plant, $20 million Augusta Renewable Energy, and Palmetto Propane are underway in South Augusta.. The Windsor Square redevelopment is moving forward(Chick Fil A, Krispy Kreme, etc) and other businesses have already opened recently on Peach Orchard.. The same white people that left South Augusta for Columbia County. The same people will and have started to move further out in Columbia County(Appling) and to Mcduffie/Lincoln.. This happens across the US and many white people will move back into the urban core..

grinder48
2134
Points
grinder48 06/10/14 - 03:26 pm
0
0
What A Joke!
Unpublished

And hey, there's really nothing to see anyway, they burned down the great historical (heritage) landmarks (like the Lenox) when they rioted in 1970. And I hope they plan to station a cop on every block ... full time!

Riverman1
103332
Points
Riverman1 06/10/14 - 03:33 pm
0
1
Columbia County CMan

"The same people will and have started to move further out in Columbia County(Appling)..."

I'd say the demographics of Columbia County won't significantly change for a hundred years or so in a way to change the racial balance. I deal with realities.

Gage Creed
20735
Points
Gage Creed 06/10/14 - 05:49 pm
1
1
Really?

"For all of you naysayers, either support your city or stay quiet!"

For all of you "developers" with your hand out...put up or shut up!

Gage Creed
20735
Points
Gage Creed 06/10/14 - 06:26 pm
1
1
Lists are AAAMMMmmmazing!

1. Pooler has an outlet mall...
2. Darrien has an outlet mall...
3. Bluffton has an outlet mall...
4. Locust Grove has an outlet mall...
5. Commerce has an outlet mall
6. Savannah has a Ruth's Chris
7. Columbia has a Ruth's Chris
8. Greenville has a Ruths' Chris
9. Durham has a Ruth's Chris
10. Augusta does not have an outlet mall
11. Augusta does not have a Ruth's Chris

Does anything on this list really matter? Much like Apple, Sephora, Michael Kors or H&M?

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 06:07 pm
1
0
"This happens across the US

"This happens across the US and many white people will move back into the urban core.."

Now, you notice he didn't say which decade or century.

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 06:09 pm
1
0
Yeah, Gage, H&M, a discount

Yeah, Gage, H&M, a discount clothing store filled with cheaply-made, poor quality clothing.

That's prestigious, all right.

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 06:12 pm
1
0
When people regard

When people regard Chick-Fil-A and Krispy Kreme as "development", you know things are really sad in a city.

In healthy, vibrant, robust cities, nobody blinks an eye at another chain fast-food restaurant. Because nobody cares, and it's superfluous and insignificant.

There used to be a doughnut shop and McDonald's on Peach Orchard Rd, down by 56, so that's not exactly stop-the-press news.

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 06:15 pm
1
0
"They still don't have

"They still don't have Michael Kors or H&M in Greenville."

Maybe that's because the leaders of Greenville want quality stores in their city.

Michael Kors stores in malls are filled with more of the same junk as the other clothing stores in the mall, it's just under a fancy name. It's for people that don't have money but that aspire to have "name" clothing- when it really isn't, at all.

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 06:22 pm
0
0
It makes perfect sense that

It makes perfect sense that Greenville doesn't have Michael Kors or H&M.

Their demographics are much stronger in every category, Michael Kors stores and H&M are appealing to a less-affluent demographic.

Median income Greenville- $48,438. Augusta, $38,952.

Per capita income Greenville- $26,657; Augusta, $20,467.

Augusta skews blue-collar, and that's what retailers like H&M and Michael Kors aim for.

countyman
22636
Points
countyman 06/10/14 - 06:36 pm
1
2
False

The largest percentage of people in Columbia County will probably remain white, but the county will become majority minority in the future.. Go visit metro Atlanta sometime and ask the residents of Gwinnett.. The white majority of Cobb County in metro Atlanta is barely hanging on..

The outlet mall in Pooler(suburb of Savannah) is under construction and not open..

''In healthy, vibrant, robust cities, nobody blinks an eye at another chain fast-food restaurant. Because nobody cares, and it's superfluous and insignificant.''

Then why do you constantly praise Columbia County? The majority of the growth has revolved around chain restaurants(a lot of them fast-food) and stores..

The retailer Apple opened in the Augusta mall before they came to Greenville. The Augusta Exchange theater got IMAX before Greenville did too..

The clothing at H&M may not be expensive, but they don't locate in every city.. Many cities larger than Augusta don't have one.. The Michael Kors store clearly speaks for itself.. There's a reason why all of these store mentions only have their Georgia locations in Augusta or metro Atlanta..

Gage Creed
20735
Points
Gage Creed 06/10/14 - 06:51 pm
0
0
FACTS are pesky things!

Under Construction with a greater than 70% commitment...

You know with all those stores you so love to list...

1. Michael Kors
2. Banana Republic
3. White House Black Market
4. Tommy Hilfiger
5. Nautica
6. Coach
7. Juicy Couture
8. IMAX and Dinner Theater (Built)

This should tell the story a bit better..

https://www.facebook.com/itscoolerinpooler/photos_stream

Gage Creed
20735
Points
Gage Creed 06/10/14 - 08:35 pm
0
0
A textbook example of Doublespeak

"The largest percentage of people in Columbia County will probably remain white, but the county will become majority minority in the future.. "

Edit: I wonder what color the white people will choose if they decide not to remain white? That is all.

Must be a liberal arts major.... (SMH)

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 07:34 pm
0
0
Countyman, for God's sake,

Countyman, for God's sake, what on Earth are you talking about?

I don't constantly praise Columbia County, I've never lived there.

What a ridiculous thing to say!

Yes, there's a reason why those stores are in Augusta, because the demographics in RC are what they are. That's just who they are trying to attract.

I bet that there are more Apple electronics in the Laney-Walker area than on the Hill, and that's saying something. Because it's a big status symbol among urban blacks to have the latest smart phone.

They may live in public housing or a shack, they may drive a old car, but they have the latest smart phone.

What's the big deal with an IMAX theatre? I've been going to them since the 70's, so that's nothing to get excited about.

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 07:35 pm
0
0
By the way, Countyman, what

By the way, Countyman, what stores have committed to the Outlet Mall?

See the list below:

(nobody)

corgimom
43197
Points
corgimom 06/10/14 - 07:41 pm
0
0
The Outlet Mall in Charlotte

The Outlet Mall in Charlotte is scheduled to open July 31st. It will have over 100 stores, with Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth as the anchor tenant.

It will have Crabtree and Evelyn, Samsonite, Seiko, Brooks Brothers, Le Creuset, and many more.

Countyman, do you think any of those stores will locate in the RC Outlet Mall?

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